FROM THE BLOGS - OIL SPILL OPINIONS
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Coverage: Gulf Coast Oil Spill
KEY WEST — The Coast Guard says the tar balls found off Key West aren't linked to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
A report released Wednesday says tests show the tar balls don't match the type of oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill. The source of the tar balls isn't known. Tar balls can occur naturally or come from other sources such as ships.
Twenty were found Monday and several others Tuesday.
Government scientists who surveyed the Gulf on Tuesday said tendrils of light oil were near or already in a powerful current that could take it to Florida. The loop current circulates in the Gulf and takes water south to the Florida Keys and the Gulf Stream. But most oil remains dozens of miles away from the current.
Scientists are anxiously awaiting signals about where a massive oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico may be heading, while containment of the looming environmental catastrophe proves elusive.
Oil has been spewing since the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon exploded off the Louisiana coast April 20, killing 11 workers, and sank two days later.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee addressed the spill at a hearing Wednesday where leading Republicans including John Mica of Florida sought to pin blame on President Barack Obama's administration. He cited Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's acknowledgment Tuesday that his agency could have more aggressively monitored the offshore drilling industry.
Outlining what he called the "Obama oil spill timeline," Mica said the administration failed to heed warnings about the need for more regulation and issued "basically a carte blanche recipe for disaster" in approving drilling by the Deepwater Horizon, leased by oil giant BP PLC, and several dozen other wells.
He also said the spill could have been contained more quickly if the Coast Guard and other agencies had a better plan.
"This went on and on," he said. "I'm not going to point fingers at BP, the private industry, when it's government's responsibility to set the standards."
Committee Chairman James Oberstar, D-Minn., took issue with the criticism, saying the drilling was approved early in the Obama administration and that decisions were made by career officials.
"I think it's inflammatory to call it the Obama oil spill, and wrong," Oberstar said.
Government scientists, meanwhile, were surveying the Gulf to determine if the oil had entered a powerful current that could take it to Florida and eventually up the East Coast. Questions remained about just how much oil is spilling from the well.
New underwater video released by BP showed oil and gas erupting under pressure in large, dark clouds from its crippled blowout preventer on the ocean floor. The leaks resembled a geyser on land.
Salazar on Tuesday promised an overhaul of federal regulations and said blame rests with both industry and the government, particularly his agency's Minerals Management Service.
"We need to clean up that house," Salazar said of the service.